David A Baltrus
We are interested in understanding the genetic basis for bacterial interactions with other organisms (be they plants, insects, fungi, other bacteria), and on how evolution shapes these interactions. By better understanding the rules and molecules that structure such relationships, we hope to develop new ways to manipulate these interactions (e.g. through the development of specific antimicrobial compounds) or shape their evolutionary dynamics through time.
David Baltrus (PhD) is broadly interested in understanding how bacterial evolution is shaped by interactions with other organisms. Questions investigated by the Baltrus lab range from asking how evolutionary events such as the transfer of genes between microbes affects the development of antibiotic resistance to testing how microbiomes impact the development and physiology of plants and animals. The lab approaches these questions by using a variety of existing tools, from screening for mutants using "toothpicks and agar plates" to experimental evolution to comparative genomics. However, Dr. Baltrus is also highly interested in developing new tools that enable sequencing and tracking of bacterial populations and communities of interest (like potential pathogens) in real time under natural conditions.